DC Council proposes independent investigation watchdog


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Nine DC Council members supported the creation of an independent investigation watchdog to monitor DCPS data. The change follows multiple investigation into DCPS that found that one third of students should not have graduated and many illegally attended DCPS from outside the DIstrict.

Zara Hall

Several DC Council members have proposed legislation to establish an independent watchdog to monitor and analyze DCPS data.  

After a year plagued by multiple residency fraud and graduation scandals, DCPS is currently working to rebuild trust in their system by replacing top staff officials and releasing a large amount of data to increase transparency between Central Offices and the DCPS community. The proposed watchdog would monitor this data as well as perform an audit of education data from the last 20 years.

This proposal follows reports released earlier in the year that revealed that despite claims of growing graduation rates, DCPS was graduating many students who should have not graduated due to absences. On the heels of that report, a probe by the Inspector General found that enrollment fraud in DCPS was far more widespread than reported.

DCPS is so preoccupied with showing improvement that the numbers have become the main objective instead of the students. That problem is exacerbated when other data is manipulated to provide a misleading presentation of the current situation. Even if explicitly or implicitly, DCPS is encouraging principals and teachers to fudge the numbers,” said Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who was one of the authors of the legislation.

The board would operate independently of the Mayor’s office, unlike all positions at DCPS, which report to the Mayor. Its members would be appointed by the mayor, the DC council, and the state board of education.

The bill was co-authored by councilmember Robert White, who previously pushed for an independent investigation of DCPS after the probe conducted by Alvarez & Marsal concluded that a high percentage of the class of 2017 should not have graduated due to absences, and that administration placed pressure on teachers to pass chronically absent students. 

Nine councilmembers have endorsed the bill, which is enough to pass the legislation and override any mayoral veto.